Why is Soil Biodiversity Important?

By Bridget Day on 05 December 2020

We celebrate World Soil Day on 5 December to celebrates healthy soils for a food-secure future. This years' campaign is  "Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity"

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has a great definition of biodiversity:

"Biodiversity is the shortened form of two words "biological" and "diversity". It refers to all the variety of life that can be found on Earth (plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms) as well as to the communities that they form and the habitats in which they live."

And why is biological diversity important? Well, the greater the number of plant species in the world, the greater the variety of crops. This variety (or diversity) is important because it is linked to sustainability - it protects us from the destruction of crops and the subsequent loss of food security which can occur if we have too much of the same crop.

A good example of this was the outbreak of Fusarium TR4 (Panama disease) which swept through Latin America in 2019 decimating banana plantations. The risk was particularly high because of monoculture, where one single variety of a plant is grown (almost exclusively).  So when a disease strikes and the crop is susceptible, it can spread faster ad result in a decimation of the crop. 

This is where the soil has a huge role to play - the healthier the soil the richer the biodiversity of its entire ecosystem, allowing for the natural regulation of pests, parasites and diseases. This results in healthier crops and plants, and better food security.

In addition to this, oils organisms allow the soil to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are some interesting facts from the FAO on World Soil Day 2020.

Download Soil Day Infographic 2020.pdf


See more about World Soil Day on the FAO Website

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency: https://www.pbl.nl/en/about-pbl

New Food Magazine: https://www.newfoodmagazine.com/article/93626/deadly-fruit-fungus-could-wipe-out-bananas/